The Medium, an Xbox Series X console exclusive, is set to launch tomorrow, and reviews have already hit the web. It’s a psychological horror game with one unique twist: you can play in two separate realities at the same time. Yes, your character can interact with two worlds simultaneously, and it makes for a trippy mind-bending experience.
Cool concept aside, the game has received mixed-to-good reviews overall. So, it’s not the killer app that Microsoft may have been hoping for. But during an early 2021 video game drought, it should be worth playing. And of course, it’s free to play for all Xbox Game Pass subscribers. As it stands, the game currently sits with a score of 72 on Metacritic.
Jordan Ramée reviewed The Medium for GameSpot and praised the game, giving it a nine out of ten. He gave the game marks for its daring themes and creative puzzle solving.
The Good: Ramée feels The Medium is a solid display of what the Xbox Series X can do. Having the game simultaneously take place on two planes feels decidedly next-gen. The narrative dares not only to tackle the horror genre, but how the aftermath of that trauma can effect people.
The Bad: The ending didn’t leave Ramée totally satisfied. Developer Bloober Team has opted for its own pre-determined fixed camera system, which can make navigating the world a little clunky.
The Gamer (5/5)
Bella Blondeau of The Gamer reviewed The Medium for the site. She appreciated the game, seeing it as Bloober Team’s most ambitious title to date. The story offers somber and depressing depth with a brilliantly haunting atmosphere.
The Good: Like a good psychological horror game, The Medium is unnerving. But as uncomfortable as it is, it’s also “deeply sad.” The Medium is a horror game with humanity. The game also isn’t afraid to tackle very mature themes.
The Bad: The fixed camera angles feels like something from the PS1 or PS2 generation. It’s an old-school approach that Blondeau feels is bold in 2021, but players might miss finding important things in the game. The fixed camera can also make puzzle solving frustrating.
Molly L. Patterson of EGM had solid praise for The Medium in her review. She loved the game’s use of split-screen dual realities, harkening back to the original Silent Hill.
The Good: Exploring the world and characters of the medium is highly compelling. For those that like uncovering dark parts of history, this game will scratch that itch. The game also takes much inspiration from Bloober Team’s Polish roots, not casting the setting in some random American city. While Patterson feels the game is flawed, and might turn away some players, it was engaging and she found it worthy of its score.
The Bad: For Patterson, The Medium feels oddly incomplete. Its various story threads feel half-finished, not completely baked and properly cooled. The gameplay mechanics too, to Patterson, felt unfinished and under-realized, missing out on achieving its true potential. It’s also a slower-paced game, and Patterson fears that some players might find it boring. There’s also an inconsistent auto-save system.
Tanner Dedmon of ComicBook had mixed thoughts about The Medium. He disliked the game’s fixed camera but praised its uniqueness and originality.
The Good: The protagonist, Marianne, works as an intimate guide through the world of The Medium. The dual-reality system is the game’s strongest mechanic. Although not perfect, it makes for a fulfilling experience. The world itself feels meaningful, and the story is worth digging into.
The Bad: Fixed cameras do not help the gameplay. You can sometimes end up walking in the wrong direction and it takes too much time to position Marianne perfectly when trying to highlight a specific object. Some of the puzzles are too on-the-nose, and can feel like going through the motions. The slow, deliberate nature of the game makes its ten-hour experience feel longer.
The Guardian (2/5)
Sarah Maria Griffin of The Guardian was not completely sold on Bloober Team’s vision in The Medium. While she praised the games visuals and world, she felt its split-world system ultimately fumbled.
The Good: It has pretty-looking world for a horror game. The cinematography and visual design is immersive.
The Bad: While Griffin was first thrilled by the game, it slowly became a confused and disappointing romp. The story themes, she felt, were ultimately tone-deaf. Because it tries to fit postwar trauma, child abuse, violence, and family all into one game, no single theme feels fleshed out. Griffin also found the story hard to follow, even as she was taking notes. She was also astounded how a game that’s only twelve hours in length could feel so long.